THE FUTURE OF SPIRIT WEST UNITED CHURCH
As many of you know, Spirit West holds a significant mortgage with a credit union as a result of the construction of our building. The current principal balance is $1,034,786.82 with annual payments on the principal of not less than $50,000 and annual interest payments of approximately $44,000. For the past five years, the principal payments have been offset or paid entirely by the Property and New Church Development Council (an separately incorporated society created by Edmonton Presbytery to handle the money from the sale of church property in Edmonton). We have one more year of support available from the PNCDC. As a congregation, in addition to the day to day expences associated with a church (salaries, utilities, programs, and outreach) we have managed to cover the interest payments each year as well as adding to the payments against the principal. For the July 2018- June 2019 mortgage year, the congregation added $14,574.70 in designated givings to the $50.000 from PNCDC for a total payment against the principal of $64,574.70. But we still have a long way to go.
With the change in the structure of the United Church of Canada (the elimination of Edmonton Presbytery and Alberta and Northwest Conference, and the creation of Northern Spirit Region) the Spirit West Church Board felt that the new region should be made aware of our financial situation. To that end, Bill Callas (SW Board Chair), Marj Hewitt (SW Treasurer) and I met with Earl Raeburn (Northern Spirit Regional Council Staff), Erin White (Northern Spirit Region Property Commission) and Randy Round (Property and New Church Development Council) in April. By the end of June we had heard nothing from this meeting, so Marj gently prodded them. On Friday, July 19 Marj received the following email from Earl Raeburn:
From: Reaburn, Earl [mailto:EReaburn@]
Sent: Friday, July 19, 2019 2:43 PM
To: Marj Hewitt; rauround@; ewhite@; Carol Callas; Spirit West UC Minister
Cc: McCarthy, Shannon
Subject: RE: Spirit West Followup
Thank you for following up on our conversation several months ago.
The three of us who met with your delegation are concerned about the financial situation at Spirit West. We do not see resources within the Regional Council or the General Council structure that would be adequate to address the discrepancy between the regular income of the Spirit West congregation and the outstanding financial liabilities.
We also believe that offering significant financial support in terms of loans and grants has not resulted in significant improvement in the financial state of the congregation.
Please do not read this as criticism of the dedicated leadership and earnest efforts of the people of Spirit West United Church. It is simply our initial assessment that Edmonton Presbytery and the congregation took on a financially unmanageable project.
When we met there was mention of the possibility of undertaking an assessment of the viability of the congregation to determine whether there is potential for change and growth, or whether it is time to direct efforts toward selling the property.
I would like to suggest that someone from your Board or your Minister, Larry Wright, be in contact with the EDGE Network for Ministry Development of the United Church to see if they could undertake such an assessment http://www.edge-ucc.ca/ . The Regional Council will provide financial support for this work.
I know this is very unwelcome news, Marj, and I regret delivering it. I do want to reassure your congregation though that the Regional Council is deeply concerned for your congregation, does not want to see you continue under unreasonable financial burden, will encourage and support you in assessing your situation and arriving at decisions and will provide support as you move into the future whatever that may be.
I will be on vacation from now until Monday, August 19th, and when I return I will look for communication from your congregation.
With sincere appreciation,
As you can see, this is “unwelcome news.” As a follow-up to this I have contacted the Edge Network and will be talking with a member of their team by phone next week. We are also checking the archives with regard to commitments that may have been made to Gilchrist/Spirit West by the Edmonton Presbytery regarding the building of the Spirit West United Church building. Many of you have invested time, talent and money in Spirit West United Church. As noted above, if it were not for the mortgage, the congregation would be meeting all its financial commitments without outside help.
The congregation could continue without a building, we spent thirty years in rented accommodations, but we don’t want to see that happen. And, besides being a home for our church, our building is home to the Abundant Life Seventh Day Adventist Church. We are the home of a pre-school, and for the summer we are the site of Adaptabilities, a day camp for children with a variety of special needs. Our building is also a meeting place for various groups and associations in the neighbourhood, as well as a place for celebrations. In the last provincial election you might have cast your ballot at one of the polling stations at Spirit West. Our church building has become a community resource.
The committee (Bill, Marj and I) as well as the Board will continue to explore avenues which could provide support to our congregation to rid ourselves of our mortgage debt.
And from you we need:
- Continued financial support as your situation allows;
- Ideas for fundraising or other means of financial support;
- And possibly the contact information for a millionaire or two needing substantial tax receipts.
This information was shared with the those present for worship last Sunday, and I was asked to share it with all of you this week.
This Sunday – the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost: Where is your treasure?
My choice of readings for this Sunday was based entirely on the Common Lectionary and not because of the foregoing information. The scripture passages this Sunday do focus on our priorities. The reading from Paul’s letter to the followers at Colossae reminds them and us of a calling as followers of Christ. “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” The passage from Luke’s gospel is sometimes called “The Parable of the Rich Fool.” Jesus is prompted to relate this parable after being asked to arbitrate in an inheritance dispute. The bottom line for Jesus is in essence, “You can’t take it with you.” Is there a message for our current society where it has been demonstrated that the very rich are getting richer, and the poor are facing increasing hardship? Where is our treasure, where are our priorities?
The Scripture readings for Sunday are Colossians 3: 1-11 and Luke 12: 13-21. In the Time for All Ages I will talk about “If you’re happy.” I am also hoping that the Veggie Tales video – Madame Blueberry will be shown downstairs for the children. The sermon is entitled, “Where is your treasure?”
At this service we will be celebrating the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
CHILDREN IN WORSHIP
Although there is no Sunday School during the summer, children are still welcome to be present for worship. To make things a bit easier, Activity Packs are available each Sunday at the Welcome Table. I am planning for something special this week (see above).
Your Favourite Hymn
Do you have a favourite hymn that you’d like to hear included in one of our worship services? Please let Bonnie C. know your choice and she will make sure it is sung within the month.
A WAY TO CONTRIBUTE FINANCIALLY
You don’t have offering envelopes, you are not on PAR, and you don’t get to church as often as you would like, but you want to make a financial contribution to work of Spirit West, and receive a tax receipt. Now you can! Check out the online donation option on our website spiritwest.org and click on the Donate tab in the navigation bar.
RIDE TO CHURCH?
From time to time we encounter people who would like to come to church at Spirit West, but are unable to because they do not have means of transportation. Can you give a ride? If you would be willing to make yourself available to provide a ride to church please call the church office. Do you need a ride? Would you like to come to church at Spirit West, but are unable to because you have no ride, please call the church office. (780-481-1406)
Spirit West Prayer Chain
The Spirit West Prayer Chain is a group of people who have committed to continue our prayers of concern from Sunday through the week. To be part of this ministry, email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org . You may also email a request for prayer to the same email address. If you would prefer to talk to someone, you can call the church or call Edina T. at 780-481-3508
SPIRIT WEST ONLINE!
Our Website is at www.spiritwest.org .
Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/SpirtWestUnitedChurch
On Instagram at spiritwestyeg
- Norma => 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Thursday
- Larry => 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Tuesday to Friday
(Rev.) Larry K. Wright, CD, BA, MDiv
Spirit West United Church